I am not going to lie, this is one of the hardest things that I have had to come around to. I get it, the more that I use what I already have the better and if I have to buy something then aim to buy second hand. It took me a while to get my head around it especially as I have always been a high street shopper rather than an online shopper. I’ve always liked going into a store and touching/feeling what I’m buying.
Firstly, we’re all conditioned to buy new, to want new things and to continue to want new things. For example, as soon as a new phone comes out, we want the latest new phone.. we want to keep up with our neighbour and we want the next best thing or better.
I am 100% guilty of this.
I think the biggest thing for me is understanding what I need versus what I want. Now I know that some people will say don’t go through all your stuff and start giving it away… I didn’t do that. What I did do, is go through what I owned, considered why I had bought it and when was the last time I wore it.
I then launched my own Depop shop and also started listed clothes and things that I didn’t think I would use again on eBay. The reason I did this was two-fold, firstly it would mean that I would get more used to using those apps and secondly, it would created a savings pot for clothes and things that I wanted to buy. After my big clear out, I realised that I didn’t actually need anything. I had plenty of clothes and therefore it was actually quite sobering. Over the years, I given bags and bags of clothes away to charity, thinking that I was doing the right thing, clearing out everything that I didn’t want to make way for the new stuff I was going to buy, all the while giving away to the more needy than myself. I know now that I’d lulled myself into this false sense of doing the right thing and instead what I should have been doing is the following:
- Thinking about why I was buying something when I first bought it, if I had done that then I probably would have put a lot of things back on thee shelf or back on the rack.
- Doing inventory and knowing what I already had. We often think ‘Oh, I need this?’ – Do you? Really? Or is that you can’t remember that you already own three pairs of blue jeans and so you don’t need to add to the collection.
- Understanding the value of second hand. You know I gave away clothes that I bought but never wore or clothes that I had just worn once. How many other people have probably done exactly the same… and there is me being snobby about wearing someone else’s clothes. Just like me, it’s probably sat in their wardrobe for yours gathering dust more than anything else.
- Playing my part in the cycle of second hand. Giving to charity is one thing but if all it meant was clearing space for new things, then I was missing the point. I’ve now adopted a 3 out and 1 in concept (I don’t always / if ever need to use the 1 in concept) BUT for every 3 things that I sell, I am allowed to buy something if I need it but I have to buy second hand and choose to buy this item by either shopping on somewhere like Depop or eBay or by browsing charity shops. The benefits have been amazing actually, a massive saving on my bank account but also a decrease in the amount of ‘stuff’ I have, which is actually done wonders for my own mental health… being surrounded by clutter was soul destroying.
So yes, getting my head around buying clothes second hand has been really hard. It’s doable and it’s easy once you get into the habit of it.
I absolutely love this article in The Guardian, I have to say I think it sums up the exchange, buy and sell culture of secondhand clothing really well: Don’t feed the monster!’ The people who have stopped buying new clothes.
This is the part of that article that really got me: “Each week we buy 38m items and 11m items go to landfill,” says Maria Chenoweth, chief executive of Traid, a charity working to stop clothes being thrown away. “We don’t have enough resources to keep feeding this monster.”
It also astounded me that an estimated £30bn of unused clothing hangs in UK wardrobes, and yet still we shop for more. I must have had so many examples of these unused items of clothing in my wardrobe.
The article talks about Lauren Cowdery who said “she used to buy things “because they were there”. In the evenings, she went on Asos. “I’d think: ‘Oh brilliant, a discount code! Free shipping! I’ll order stuff! Hmm … It doesn’t fit very well, but I can’t be bothered to send it back … I’ll keep it.’” – I am so guilty of this. The more and more I thought about it, the most I came to the same relevation as her.. “what was I doing?”!
Becoming more aware about the clothes that I buy and the clothes that I wear has helped me to feel more liberated and more like I’m doing the right thing and that makes me feel good.